My Cherished Assortment of Mpingo Wood Carvings

I mentioned to a colleague of mine today how I believe this winter has had far more windy days than we’ve normally had in the past, and after a moment, it was agreed upon.  Every time I was out of doors today, that biting wind was enough to take my breath away, which is why I try to keep my mouth covered whenever out in such cold. Of course the weather forecast for tomorrow has a possibility of rain and/or sleet, which means if we do get it, we’ll have even more slip-hazards around town.

Research, filing, cleaning and organizing was pretty much the bulk of my day at office, but glad to have a little more free time to get my work area all the more presentable. While out grabbing a bite for lunch, one of the workers asked what I did for a living, and of course I had to tell him. After brining him up to speed, he asked if I was in the same office I’ve always been which compelled me to ask where he thought my office was. Oh my goodness, he believed my current office was the same office that used to be at 409 N. Federal which is now Fareway’s parking lot. I did give him a little slack when saying how often the older ones get them confused.

Truth be told, my current office is very much like the old considering it’s in the middle of the block, it’s two-storied, on the east side of the street, and the front door being in the same position. Even the interior is similar with there being an open front reception area, tall ceilings, and the basement door in the same spot. All other features are not the same because my office doesn’t have half-walled offices like our old one, and of course my current office has beautiful wood floors and woodwork which the one at 409 N. Federal didn’t. I guess the half-circle journey Holtz Realty took from 409 N. Federal to 34 – 2nd NE, and then back to 213 N. Federal, was basically my returning home.

The previous owners of 34 – 2nd NE was constantly pestering me to buy the building from them, but little did they know how much I absolutely hated all that highway noise coming from N. Delaware, and since my office was located on the N. Delaware street-side of that building, there’d be numerous times I’d be interrupted while on the phone by a very loud motorcycle or an 18 wheeler rumbling thru. Another thing I hated about that building, were those concrete floors which after a while, would make a person tired. During the winter, that long stretch of sidewalk along our building was a constant battle to keep cleared of snow, and since we didn’t have a private parking area, we’d always have to watch the clock to make sure our vehicles were moved before they were ticketed. Yes, we had good highway visibility for our signage, but the negatives about that building were far outweighing.

I see the current owners are still looking for someone to rent it, and I suspect they’re asking too much because it’s all set up for offices. Now, I’ll take some of you older ones back in time when asking, “Do you remember when that building was occupied by Marshall and Swift Furriers? Well, that’s what it was up until real fur coats fell out of fashion. After it was sold and purchased a few times over, a now deceased Realtor purchased it as an investment and kept it as a business rental which seemed to have a revolving door of tenants until Holtz Realty was forced to sell their building on 409 N. Federal to make way for Fareway’s new build-out, so it seemed like a likely fit for our new office space. After several days of negotiations, it was under contract and then the remodeling began. Most don’t know that the decorative window that’s standing at the front of 34 – 2nd NE, was the skylight out of the upstairs hallway of 409 N. Federal. Boy was that an undertaking to get it down because I was up there helping to free it from its frame.

Oh how many stories I could tell about that move which was akin to something out of the Keystone Cops, and mostly because we were under an extreme time crunch to be moved out before the wrecking ball arrived. You’ve heard the old expression, “Too many cooks spoil the soup.”, well for sure that’s what I had to deal with on a near-daily basis. The most angering happening, was one of my colleagues having dumped a heavy wastebasket I was using to pack up my cherished assortment of Mpingo wood carvings which I’d been collecting for years. Well, by the time I’d discovered they were ignorantly dumped in a big trash bin, the garbage truck had already come and gone. To this day I cannot fathom someone dumping into a dumpster a very heavy plastic waste basket filled with items wrapped in paper without at least checking to see what made it so heavy. All I got out of it was a “Sorry, I wasn’t thinking”. Such things happen when people think they’re doing you a favor by freely offering help when it wasn’t needed.

Since that happened, I became all the more leery of people wanting to help with something, and also being even more conscientious whenever assisting others during their moves. I’m sure I’ve sounded like a broken record for some because I don’t ask just once, but at least twice regarding the keeping or ditching of personal items. Getting back to those Mpingo wood carvings, I’m sure the value of them would’ve been tripled by now considering how scarce that wood has become due to over-harvesting. If you didn’t know, Mpingo is one of the woods they use when making clarinets.

While I was digging thru my files today, I happened upon a saved page from a 1936 Globe Gazette issue which talked about the record amount of snow North Iowa received during a blizzard. There were numerous photos given, so if I think of it, I’ll share a few with you tomorrow. I know my mother talked about how bad that winter was, but when seeing those photos, it must’ve been a frozen hell for all North Iowans. I can only imagine what some of the farmers had to deal with when trying to get their livestock feed and cows milked. Just remember, the good old days were not always so good.

Tonight’s One-liner is: There are more fools than knaves in the world, else the knaves would not have enough to live upon.

Joe Chodur

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